Frieren’s Prequel Novel Chapter 2 part 1

 
Chapter 2 : The Day I Became a Hero
 

“No good, huh.”
 
A voice full of deep disappointment came down from above.
 
The young boy lying on the ground mustered strength in his limbs and managed to stand up. His body was exhausted. His entire frame was covered in dust, and the calluses on his palms were crushed. His youthful face still had bruises from being struck by the wooden sword.
 
His name was Stark. He was a young boy living in the village of warriors.
 
Stark panted as he picked up the fallen wooden sword.
 
As he looked up, his sharp gaze met that of his father’s. His father was standing there, looking down on him with a scolding glare. Stark could feel his father’s anger and disappointment seeping through.
 
Stark gritted his teeth, his hands trembling.
 
“B-But I can still…”
 
“I’ve seen enough of your abilities. Don’t humiliate yourself any further.”
 
His father turned his back on Stark. He walked a few steps, not even glancing back, and coldly stated,
 
“A true warrior knows when to admit defeat.”
 
Stark was left alone.
 
The strain of standing was too much, and he sank to his knees. He huddled in on himself, like an abandoned puppy.
 
“Quite a beating you took there, huh?”
 
A voice came from behind him.
 
Stark turned to see a figure in a pure white cloak billowing in the wind.
 
It was his brother, Stoltz.
 
“Brother…”
 
Stoltz knelt on the ground, meeting Stark’s eyes as he slumped down. Then, he gently patted Stark’s head.
 
“Are you alright?”
 
“No, not at all. I can’t even defeat the monsters or demons like this…”
 
“Don’t worry,”
 
Stoltz smiled.
 
“There’s no need to rush to become strong. When the monsters or demons come after you, I’ll…”
 

 
Suddenly, the wagon jolted heavily, as if it had run over a large rock.
 
At the same time, Stark, who had been sleeping in the wagon bed, opened his eyes.
 
“…Just a dream.”
 
He sat up, yawning deeply and rolling his arms to loosen his stiff joints. His back was sore from sleeping on the hard wooden surface.
 
The wagon was traveling along a road through a ravine. Looking up, the clear blue sky stretched out. It must be past noon now. Stark felt a bit hungry.
 
Usually, he’d be helping his master prepare lunch, but things were different now.
 
Stark had left his master, the warrior Eisen, just the other day. It was a fight, an argument. Stark had lacked the courage to face the monsters, and the impatient Eisen had ended up hitting him. Stark had then fled, the bruises from that day still aching.
 
He had no intention of returning to Eisen. He couldn’t even bear to face him. He had clearly worn out his welcome. And so, he had been aimlessly wandering when the kind family of a stable keeper had taken him in, leading to his current situation.
 

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“Remember, just hold the reins lightly. Don’t get too tense.”
 
“Okay.”
 
Voices came from the front of the wagon.
 
Stark shifted his position, kneeling on the pile of dried grass. He saw the stable keeper and his young son, with the boy holding the reins.
 
“How do I stop it?”
 
“Pull the reins. But don’t do it now, we’ll practice later.”
 
“Is it hard?”
 
“Not at all. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.”
 
They seemed to be teaching the boy how to handle the horses.
 
Perhaps that’s why he had that nightmare about his father. The warm interaction before him made him a little envious.
 
The stable keeper noticed Stark.
 
“Oh, you’re awake. We’re almost to the village.”
 
“Ah, I see.”
 
After Stark’s reply, the man kept staring intently at him. Feeling uneasy under the gaze, Stark furrowed his brow.
 
“…Why are you looking at me like that?”
 
“Aren’t you Eisen’s apprentice?”
 
“! So you recognized me.”
 
“I thought so. I’ve seen you walking with Eisen before.”
 
Eisen had been a member of the hero party that defeated the Demon King, long ago. Though it happened decades ago, he was still famous around these parts.
 
“Out shopping today? Not with Eisen this time, huh?”
 
“…Let’s not talk about the master. We had a fight.”
 
“Rebellious phase, eh?”
 
“That’s not it.”
 
“Wonder if my son will end up like that too someday…”
 
“Just listen, would you…”
 
The wagon crossed a bridge spanning the ravine. After traveling a bit further, they started to see scattered houses, arriving at the village.
 
Stark thanked the stable keeper’s family and got off the wagon.
 
“Well, then.”
 
Time to get some food, he decided, and set off.
 
Though a small village, it had an inn and a tavern. Staying here for a while wouldn’t be so bad. He could find work and earn some living money, maybe helping with farm work – that’s about all Stark could manage.
 
However, there was one thing that bothered him.
 
“This village has a gloomy air…”
 
The people walking about all had anxious expressions. The villagers were tight-lipped, making the place unnaturally quiet. There was none of the usual liveliness – no children playing, no women chatting by the well. This village seemed devoid of any such activity.
 
“Was there a funeral going on?”
 
Stark tilted his head.
 
Then an old man approached.
 
“Hey, are you an adventurer?”
 
“Huh? No, not really…”
 
“I see. Well, it’s probably best if you don’t stick around this village for too long.”
 
“Why’s that?”
 
“Just get out of here.”
 
As soon as Stark asked that, the old man’s eyes widened in horror. Trembling, he backed away and collapsed to the ground.
 
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
 
“It’s… it’s out there…”
 
“What is?!”
 
In response to his question, a thunderous rumble came from behind Stark. Screams erupted all around, and the old man crawled away in terror.
 
Stark felt a horrible premonition. Holding his breath, he slowly turned around.
 
A dragon had landed right in the middle of the village.
 
With its smooth, red scales and massive, claw-like talons, it could easily stride over the nearby houses. Ah, so this must be the “it” the old man was talking about.
 
Time to run.
 
Encountering this right after arriving in the village – there was no way Stark could win a fight against it. Fortunately, the dragon hadn’t noticed him yet. He had to find a safe place to hide.
 
But then he saw it –
 
a young boy and an old woman huddled near the dragon.
 
Stark’s feet stopped. If he left them there, they wouldn’t make it. As far as he could tell, there was no one around who could fight the beast.
 
But as a warrior, even an inexperienced one,
 
There they are, the villagers whose names we do not even know. Still, he couldn’t abandon them. Suppressing the urge to flee, Stark charged towards the dragon, his axe in hand, standing before it.
 
“I’ll be your opponent.”
 
The dragon let out a rumbling growl, looking down at Stark. Its scorching hot breath hit his face. Up close, it seemed even more massive. Stark was already regretting not running.
 
The dragon’s pupils narrowed to slits. As it raised its arm, its massive claws eclipsed the sun, gleaming sharply.
 
The attack was coming.
 
“Ah, I’m going to die.”
 
A strong sense of impending doom.
 
But the dragon did not attack Stark – instead, it slashed at the nearby houses. Without taking its eyes off Stark, it continued its menacing display, then eventually flew away, as if its task was done.
 
Stark was drenched in sweat.
 
He had been gripping his axe tightly without realizing it. His legs were still trembling. He hardly felt alive.
 
“I… I survived…”
 
The tension finally left his shoulders. He didn’t understand why the dragon hadn’t attacked him, but he was grateful to be alive. He never wanted to experience something like that again.
 
Stark slung his axe back over his shoulder. Turning around, he saw the old woman comforting the crying boy. They seemed unharmed, but their expressions were still filled with anxiety, especially the boy, who was terrified.
 
“It’s okay, it’s okay…”
 
The woman kept repeating as she stroked the boy’s head, but he wouldn’t stop crying.
 
Feeling pity, Stark approached them, kneeling down to the boy’s level.
 
“The dragon is gone now. You’re safe.”


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